Police search for suspect when good deed goes bad

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A single mom thought she was doing a good deed, helping a homeless man. However, hours after she took him into her home to feed him, police said he went back to her house to rip her off.

Police caught him but before they could figure out who he was, he escaped. Police believe he hurt himself on purpose so they would take him to the hospital. They did, and he used the chance to escape.

Now police are asking for the public’s help.

In Los Lunas on Highway 314 near the train station, Rebecca Martinez stopped last week when a man approached her.

“He came up and asked me for hot water. He was eating dry ramen noodles,” Martinez said.

She said it was a Sunday, and she had just come from church.

“The sermon that day, the preacher was talking about helping those in need,” Martinez said.

She figured this was her chance to practice what he preached.

She said she took him to her home, fed him, gave him some cash and packed him a meal to go.

Two hours later, he came back asking to use the shower.

“So, I let him borrow the shower. He was dirty. I gave him a change of clothes,” Martinez said.

She didn’t know it, but at about 10:00 p.m. that night, he was at her home for a third time.

Police said the man, who called himself Israel, was stealing from Martinez’ van.

He was caught wearing her teenage daughter’s letterman jacket.

Martinez said her van door wasn’t closing all the way, so he was able to open it and get in.

At the Los Lunas Police station, before police identified and booked him, they say he threw himself on the floor.

An ambulance took him to UNMH for his injuries, but a doctor never saw him.

He simply walked back out into the night.

Police said they had to send a detective to meet him at the hospital because they were too short-staffed overnight to send someone with him in the ambulance.

“There were two officers and a sergeant so if one had accompanied him in the ambulance, then it would have left two officers to patrol the entire village for that night,” said Officer Nikki Baca with the Los Lunas Police Department.

Martinez said the man broke the ignition in her van, so she thinks he was actually trying to steal that too.

She is worried he might go back to her home because police said he was talking a lot about her youngest daughter.

She said this won’t stop her from trying to help the less fortunate. She just won’t be bringing them home any more.

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